The Lowdown Calendar of 2015’s Biggest Mystery Conventions

Mystery conventions are a great way to find new mystery-loving friends and hear directly from your favorite authors – and maybe even meet some of them. All of these conventions feature keynote speeches or interviews from big name guests of honor as well as author, expert and fan panels talking about all sorts of subjects. There are parties and book signings. Some even have fan guests of honor. Many of these conventions are put on by all-volunteer, non-profit organizations, run by mystery fans who donate their time to make sure everyone has fun.

Here is a chronological rundown of five major fan conventions taking place this year.

Editor's Note: We're working on another post with smaller and/or specialty conferences, which may also include those that have a workshopping or publishing focus, meaning they're directed towards writers more than pure readers and fans. Feel free to add mentions or suggestions in the comments here, because we'll be listing as many of those as we can in another chronological rundown very soon.

Left Coast Crime
March 12-15, 2015, Portland, Oregon

Left Coast Crime is an annual convention usually hosted in the western part of North  America. This year’s theme is Crimelandia, and guests of honor are Chelsea Cain and Timothy Hallinan. The 2015 toastmaster is Gar Anthony Haywood, and the special guest is Phillip Margolin. Left Coast also has a fan guest of honor and this year, rather than picking one fan, they picked an organization: the non-profit literary and educational group Friends of Mystery. The Left Coast Crime Awards, affectionately know as the “Leftys,” are given out during the event. Next year’s convention will be held in Phoenix, Arizona.

Malice Domestic
May 1-3, 2015, Bethesda, Maryland.

An annual conference held in Bethesda, Maryland, Malice Domestic focuses on the traditional mystery, defined as mysteries without explicit sex or violence (sometimes known as the cozy.) This year’s honoree slate includes Guest of Honor Charles Todd; Toastmaster Toni L.P. Kelner, Lifetime Achievement winner Sara Paretsky; International Guest of Honor Ann Cleeves; and Fan Guest of Honor William L. Starck. Malice Domestic hosts the Agatha Awards where winners are selected by attendees. The conference also awards two grants every year to unpublished writers to attend a writer’s conference. This year they are accepting submissions for a conference anthology to be published in 2016.

May 14-17, 2015, Bristol, England

Crimefest, held annually in Bristol, England, boasts the theme, “The Pen is Bloodier than the Sword.” The featured guest authors for 2015 are Maj Sjowall, Lee Child, and Sophie Hannah. Participating authors include Stuart Neville, Rhys Bowen, and Julia Crouch. Crimefest gives out their own awards, and although this is primarily a fan convention, they do offer pitch sessions with agents and writing workshops. The Guardian, a British newspaper, called it one of “the 50 Best Festivals in the World.”

July 7-11, 2015, New York City

ThrillerFest, hosted each year in New York City by the International Thriller Writers (ITW) organization, has three components – ThrillerFest, for fans, CraftFest, for writers, and AgentFest, for writers looking for agents. Attendees can go to one, two, or all three programs. ITW has its own awards given during the conference. For the fan portion of the convention, this year’s guests of honor include the 2015 Thrillermaster Nelson DeMille, with 2014 Thrillermaster Scott Turow returning to the convention, along with Spotlight Guests Charlaine Harris, Greg Iles and Mark Billingham. The 2015 Silver Bullet Award Winners will be Brenda Novak and Kathy Reichs.

Bouchercon 2015
October 8-11, 2015, Raleigh, North Carolina

Named for mystery lover, writer, and critic Anthony Boucher (rhymes with voucher), Bouchercon is the world’s largest mystery convention and features three solid days of panels, keynotes, and parties. Guests of honor in 2015 include Margaret Maron, Kathy Reichs, Tom Franklin, Zoe Sharp, Allan Guthrie, Sarah Shaber, and Ron Rash. Fan guests of honor are Lucinda Surber and Stan Ulrich.  The toastmasters are Sean Doolittle and Lori Armstrong. Bouchercon is a festival of awards with Bouchercon's own Anthony Awards, Mystery Readers International's Macavity Awards, Deadly Pleasures' Barry Awards, the Private Eye Writers of America's Shamus Awards and the Short Mystery Fiction Society's Derringer Awards all given out during the three-day fan fest. 2016’s convention will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Check out the rest of our 2015 Lowdown Calendar with even more regional and specialty crime fiction events, including ones suggested by you!

Which convention(s) are you planning to attend this year?

 Deborah Lacy loves reading and writing crime fiction. When she’s not watching Major Crimes, she blogs at Mystery Playground and can be found on Twitter @quippy.


  1. Neliza Drew

    Don’t forget Sleuthfest in Deerfield Beach, FL
    Feb. 26 to March 1, 2015
    Keynote: James Patterson
    Florida Guest of Honor: James W. Hall
    Sunday Guest of Honor: Dave Barry
    Forensics Guest of Honor: Ric Gillespie

  2. Deborah Lacy

    @Nelisadrew – great add. I’ve been to Sleuthfest several times and loved it. I left it out of the rundown because I’ve always considered it more of a writer’s conference than a fan convention. There’s always a great line up of guests and it’s always great fun.

    Another conference to check out is Magna cum Murder in Indianapolis Oct 30 -Nov 1. Guests of honor are William Kent Krueger and Simon Brett.

  3. Clare 2e

    Hi @nelizadrew and @DeborahLacy
    Thanks for mentioning.

    This post (maybe should be retitled) isn’t ALL the events for the year by any means–it’s just the 5 biggest. We’re planning another post with smaller, regional, or specialty conferences, and these 2 you mention were already on that list to discuss! Stay tuned and keep adding any suggestions we should have for that post to come!

  4. Triss finkelman Stein

    This is such a helpful round up. Thanks for writing and posting it.

  5. Erin M

    Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (Harrogate) is a favorite of mine:

  6. Carol Tedesco

    Posting the whole press release on the upcoming Mystery Writers Key West Fest – thank you!

    [b]Celebration of Sleuthing: Mystery Writers Key West Fest to Feature Who’s Who of Suspense/Mystery Authors, August 14-16[/b]

    International bestselling and global multi-award winning suspense-thriller writer Jeffery Deaver, author of the renowned“Lincoln Rhyme” book series, is to headline a Who’s Who of mystery writers and true-crime experts who will reveal their sleuthing savvy and who-dunnit know-how at the 2015 Mystery Writers Key West Fest, set for August 14-16 in Key West, Florida.

    Through a series of panels, presentations and social events, Fest guests can learn first-hand how to craft their own tales of crime, murder and mystery from Deaver and other high-profile mystery genre luminaries – including award-winning Florida author James O. Born, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Heather Graham, international best-selling author Chris Kuzneski, best-selling Chicago crime writer Libby Fischer Hellman, Irish thriller writer Laurence O’Bryan, award-winning crime fiction authors Sandra Balzo, Carolina Garcia-Aguilera and many others.

    Produced by Key West Writers Block, the “Murder & Mayhem in Paradise” themed Festis brainchild of Writers Block co-founders Shirrel Rhoades, a publisher who has held executive positions with Reader’s Digest, Scholastic, Harper’s, Marvel Entertainment and other well-known publishing companies, and author Michael Haskins, creator of the popular Mad Mick Murphy mystery series.

    Kicking off on Friday afternoon, two back-to-back true-crime workshops led by Florida Keys Law Enforcement Officers will present a bird’s eye view of how detectives and CSI investigators collect and work with evidence in real life – vs. popular television and film depictions.

    Fest highlights are to include opening ceremonies conducted by Heather Graham and leading Key West City officials, a luncheon with Jeffery Deaver – whosefirst Lincoln Rhyme mystery inspired the film “The Bone Collector” starring Denzel Washington; a dinner event with James O. Born at the Backspace Bar & Kitchen, a Bloody Mary Morning breakfast at Key West’s historic Schooner Wharf Bar, a bar stroll, a chance to win a cameo “character placement” role in Heather Graham’s next mystery tale, and presentation of the first Jeremiah Healy Mystery Writing Award.

    “The Jerry” Award, sponsored by Absolutely Amazing eBooks, salutes the late author’s legacy as an influential mentor credited with helping and advising many aspiring writers. “Healy was a terrific mystery writer and a good judge of mysteries,” notes Rhoades. “He helped us get the first Fest off the ground, and this way we will keep him as a part of it in future years.”
    “There’s no other conference like the Mystery Writers Key West Fest because there is no other place like Key West,” commented Haskins of the island that has long been renowned as a writers haven and locale of suspense and intrigue.

    Featuring a criminally stellar line-up of award-winning and bestselling crime fiction authors and true-crime experts, Mystery Writers Key West Fest 2015 is sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America – Florida Chapter, The Florida Keys Council of the Arts and the Key West Citizen daily newspaper.

    Event registration is $125 and includes all panels, presentations and three meals..

    For a full Fest schedule, online registration, links to accommodations and complete details on the Jeremiah Healy Award visit [url=][/url].

  7. joe henriques

    Been to Sleuthfest and Thrillerfest in the past. Both were fun, educational, helpful. Kept in touch with a couple of people I met there for some time. Met Lee Child at SF, nice guy, talked to anybody who apporached him.

  8. Emily Eytchison

    Hi, @DeborahLacy! I’m reaching out to you on behalf of Clay Stafford, founder of Killer Nashville, to request our inclusion on future lists of mystery conferences. Our information is below. Thank you!

    An intimate event with an emphasis on networking, education, and career planning, Killer Nashville is an annual mystery/thriller writers’ conference held in Tennessee. As an organization, Killer Nashville is an earnest advocate for writers and readers of all genres, and works year-round to connect writers with publishers, literary agents, publicists, attorneys, and other writers through their website, as well as sponsored book signings, author showcases at foreign book festivals, and more. In addition to providing educational and networking opportunities for attendees, Killer Nashville sponsors the Silver Falchion and Claymore Awards, which have been directly responsible for the publication of new authors’ work with established, legitimate publishers. To learn more or register for Killer Nashville, visit their site at

  9. Joe Brosnan

    Hi, @Emily. I’m the site manager here. Sorry for the oversight of not including Killer Nashville on the list. We did mention this year’s [url=]award nominees[/url]! And we also offered up a sneak peak of C. Hope Clark’s [url=]”Rich Talk”[/url] that appeared in the Killer Nashville Noir anthology. So I hope we can continue to work together! Thank you!

  10. Emily Eytchison

    Hi, @JoeBrosnan. I appreciate it greatly. If you would like, I can get in touch with you guys once we have our dates for next year’s conference, if you feature Mystery Conventions again next year. 🙂

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